On my first full day in San Francisco, I spent the early part of the day playing tourist. A highlight was a visit to City Lights Book Store. When I am away on my own, my kids and my spouse are never very far from my mind and this wonderful and historic book store seemed like as good a place as any to buy them some presents.
And so I did. I bought an armload of stories that I had never seen anywhere else and put them all in canvas bag with the store's name on it. I left the store feeling very pleased with myself.
I schlepped those books from North Beach to Union Square, for the orientation session for BlogHer speakers. But before going out for dinner and on to the various BlogHer welcome receptions, I stowed all my stuff in Babz's room in the hotel, so that I wouldn't have to carry them or risk losing them. Again, I felt very pleased with myself.
I had a lovely evening. I don't handle crowds of new people very well but there is something to be said for hitching yourself to an extrovert and just enjoying the experiences. And so I basked in Babz's glow and met some wonderful people at the Speakers' reception. I even won the door prize, a Nintendo DS.
As that party wound down, we headed up to the Newbie party for BlogHer first-timers. I demurred, as I was not a newbie but someone convinced me that I could play a role in welcoming the newbies. It sounded good to me, and besides it was in a rooftop bar with a beautiful view. I had expected to make the evening a short one, as I was jet-lagged and feeling the three hour time difference. I also had to commute out to friends' place where I was staying in Oakland. But it wasn't until we arrived at our third party of the evening (in yet another part of the hotel) that I realized that I had hit a wall (and that the room was just too packed for me). I left that party as quickly as I had entered it and headed back up to Babz's room to get my stuff.
Babz walked me down to the taxi stand (it was too late for me to feel safe walking home from the BART in Oakland) and saw me get off safely.
It was at that point that I realized that I was more than a little drunk. As I had been busy socializing all evening, the bar had been open and my glass was always full. And somehow it hadn't occurred to me to get someone to fill my glass with water.
I managed to slur out the address in Oakland to my cab driver, a young man who was really very nice. When I couldn't tell him how to get to my destination, he first called a friend and then used his Blackberry to call up a map. He had to use it again when I couldn't tell him where to exit off the freeway (something I could not have done even if I were sober. I am a terrible navigator).
While he drove, we chatted a little bit. I told him about the conference. He told me that he didn't usually like to drive to Oakland but that he was doing it for me because I "seem like a nice person."
"I am a nice person," I enthusiastically replied.
We were both relieved and happy when he dropped me off in front of my friends' building and we wished each other well.
In the middle of the night (skipping over the part where I locked myself out and had to wake my hosts who I had only met the day before so that they could let me in), I woke with a start and registered the fact that I no longer had the City Lights bag.
I tip-toed down the hall and back out to the street to see if I had left the bag on the front stoop (where I had sat while I had been trying to sober up), to no avail. Nor did Babz find the bag in her room. My receipt didn't have the name of the taxi company (and I couldn't remember). I checked twice with hotel security (in case it had been found and dropped off there) and with the lost and found table for BlogHer. By Saturday, I had given up and was trying to decide if I should return to City Lights and attempt to replace the presents I'd bought.
Then, on Saturday, as I was being miked for the session at which I was speaking, I heard my name being called. "I was your taxi driver," he said. And on his arm was a bag full of books.
"How did you find me?"
He made typing motions with his fingers. "Your name was on your credit card slip."
I was euphoric.
I asked him if I could hug him.
I offered him money (he refused).
Babz took his picture (which I won't post here because it doesn't do him justice).
And everyone made a big fuss.
"I was in the neighbourhood," he said, modestly.
But I know that he went to great lengths to track me down. He googled my name to find my blog. My last post had said that I was going to the BlogHer conference. I had linked to the BlogHer agenda, so he must have read it to find my name and the title of my session (I had told him that I was speaking). He then came to the hotel, checked the directory and followed the labyrinthine corridors to find me.
I am so touched by what he did. I wish that there had been something I could have done (I could have insisted on giving him money but I felt like it would embarrass him). His name is Eduardo and he is a lovely man.
The next time I have the chance to something nice for a stranger, I will think of Eduardo. I encourage all of you to do the same. If you do, please let me know in the comments (or if something like this has ever happened to you, please share that as well).
And yes, I really did behave myself for the rest of the conference.